ACEEE Forecast: More Energy-Efficiency Spending, Legislation in 2013

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy says while 2012 was a good year, energy-efficiency wise 2013 looks to be even better.

In a blog, ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel points to 2012 highlights, including weatherizing more than 1 million low-incomes homes and apartments with federal stimulus dollars, and establishing energy-efficiency loan programs in more than 30 states.

ACEE says utility-sector spending on energy efficiency continues to increase, topping out at $7 billion in 2011 (2012 data isn’t yet available), which is an increase in $1.5 billion from the previous year.

Additionally, Nadel writes, the federal government finalized standards for cars and light trucks that will raise average fuel economy to about 50 miles per gallon by 2025.

Looking ahead to 2013, ACEEE forecasts utility-sector spending on energy efficiency will increase, and says congress will likely look at bipartisan energy-efficiency legislation. In December 2012, Nadel testified at the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure hearing to advocate for energy-efficiency tax incentives.

ACEEE analysis found that a five-year federal tax credit for several high-efficiency products and services cost the government less than one-tenth the cost of the energy resources saved over a 15-year period. According to ACEEE, the options with the best payback are tax incentives for commercial buildings (both energy-efficient new construction and energy-saving retrofits), energy-efficient new homes, heating and cooling equipment, and appliances, and combined heat and power systems.

Also in 2013, the DOE is slated to release 11 new product efficiency standards, and new efficiency requirements for manufactured housing.

Congress also extended the wind-energy tax credits in the budget legislation to avoid the fiscal cliff, which the American Wind Energy Association says ensures continued growth of this renewable energy source in 2013. Wind set a new record in 2012 by installing 44 percent of all new electrical generating capacity in America, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Forbes forecasts in 2013 companies will generate more of their own renewable energy, and also purchase more renewables.

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